WRB—June 22, 2022
Eliot, Merwin, Bennett, Christie, Casanova, and more
The apparition of these emails on your phone
Letters in a packed inbox.
[Meh. we can do better. —Chris]
To do list:
order a tote bag;
avail yourself of our world-famous classified ads, now stored on this page for non-paying readers to access, either by placing or responding to one [There are 700 of you, surely two of you must be meant for one another. —Chris]; and,
It’s Terry Eagleton in the new Commonweal on “T.S. Eliot’s conservative modernism.” We don’t know what else you want from us: “Most men and women, like the ‘hollow men’ of Eliot’s poem of that title, are too spiritually shallow even to be damned, which means that ‘the possibility of damnation is so immense a relief in a world of electoral reform, plebiscites, sex reform and dress reform.’”
On Saturday, we mentioned that Agatha Christie is having something of a renaissance. For Public Books, Briallen Hopper considers the quite-unknown Christie novel At Bertram’s Hotel: “At Bertram’s Hotel is a book about the dangers and delights of choosing known pleasures over the dubious thrills of novelty.”
Ahead of the scheduled New Yorker roundup, this essay on Casanova was great: “Casanova—a.k.a. Neuhaus, di San Gallo, the Chevalier de Seingalt, and Count Farussi—was a priapic precursor of Zelig. Some of his history can be verified, but much of it seems fantastical. Few of the great diarists among his contemporaries, Boswell aside, bothered to mention him, though police records did.” [Honestly, truly, I was not sure that Casanova was a real person until I read this. —Chris]
Two finally out from paywall: In Liberties, Helen Vendler on the poems of Marianne Moore: “A restless reader both in conventional subjects (literature, history, mythology, art) and in odd corners of exotica (the outliers of the animal kingdom, anthropology, couturier fashions, geography), Moore dared to envisage an audience as extravagantly informed as herself.”
And in The New Atlantis, Kit Wilson with a thesis that the Managing Editors find fairly threatening: we are “Reading Ourselves to Death”: “Patricia Lockwood has described being online as ‘the feeling my thoughts were being dictated.’ How does that happen? It’s not that our brains are being irradiated by mind-controlling waves, nor that our neurons are being singed by our screens. It’s the text.”
Two from The Nation: Rachel Vorona Cote on the new Claire-Louise Bennett novel, Checkout 19 [I’m very excited to get to this and her previous collection in the pile on my desk. —Chris]
And Danielle Carr has a fascinating review of Hannah Zeavin’s The Distance Cure: A History of Teletherapy: “Freud’s self-analysis and his analysis of Little Hans demonstrate that therapy at a distance is not a deviation from the ‘original’ psychotherapeutic technique but existed at the very outset of the talking cure.”
LEGO is building a factory in Virginia. [More interesting than Amazon. —Chris]
“The Washington Post wants to give you a good deal on a digital subscription — from now until 2072.” We would like to do the same thing—but we’d like the whole payment up front, please.
Princeton University Press is having another sale. We are not linking it directly out of concern for the potential moral hazard.
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